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Golden-crowned sparrow        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Golden-crowned sparrows are slightly larger than their white-crowned sparrow congeners; adult male golden-crowns are unmistakable, with black caps with bright yellow crown markings, but the two species can be a little difficult to separate in juvenile or non-breeding plumage (bottom photo).   The best field mark for these birds is bill color (particularly the upper mandible): dark in the golden-crowned sparrow and pink or yellow in the white-crowned sparrow.  These sparrows were photographed on some dry vegetation at Molera State Park, near the mouth of the Big Sur River on the central coast of California, near the University of California, Riverside Botanical Gardens or in Palo Alto, California. The breeding birds (in the spruce trees) were along the Glen Alps trail to Flattop Mountain near Anchorage, Alaska.

  • Canon 10D, 1D Mk. II, 1D3, or 1D4; 500 mm f4 IS lens plus 2X converter or 800 mm IS lens plus 1.4X converter, fill-in flash (2004, 2007, 2011)